MAY 21, 2016 – WEEK SEVEN – SATURDAY – THE LITTLE CHILDREN

(Mark 10:13-16)

Prayer: O Jesus, I will accept your Kingdom like a little child.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus surrounded by children and the disciples.)

Context:

Right after Jesus’ teaching on the permanence of marriage, Mark places this story of children (the fruit of marriage). Earlier, Jesus spoke of not scandalizing the little ones. Now, he sees the disciples “hindering” them from coming close. (Possibly a Baptismal question in Mark’s Church). Jesus’ anger shows that only he decides who are worthy of the Kingdom. No one else must judge.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

People were bringing children to Jesus so he might touch them but the disciples scolded them for doing this. Jesus became indignant and said, “Let the little children come to me and do not forbid them. For such is the Kingdom of God.

Amen I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child shall not enter it.” Then he embraced them and blessed them, laying his hands upon them.

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder those that attract you.)

  1. The people see Jesus’ blessings and want these for their children.
  2. The disciples are misled. They miss the point. They are limiting the Kingdom.
  3. Jesus wants all to enter the Kingdom. This is his constant concern.
  4. He speaks from his heart, “Let the little children come to me”. This is your invitation. Jesus is speaking to you.
  5. Set aside your adult sophistication.       You need a heavenly Father, just like everyone else.
  6. Go to Jesus. He will embrace you (with arms stretched out on a cross) and you will be blessed as never before.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. O Jesus, your blessings flow freely. They are so easily received.
  2. O Lord, let nothing hinder me. Sweep away all obstacles that stand between you and me.
  3. I hear you speak. You say “Let them come”. You are like a king who wants his people to enter his courts.
  4. O Jesus, I need you. I need your presence.       I need your help.
  5. Take me in your arms. Your hands are wounded and your arms are bloody – all for love of me.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. Today, I will hear Jesus say “Let them come.”
  2. I will examine the obstacles that keep me from Jesus.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Do not forbid the children. Of such is the Kingdom of God.

MAY 20, 2016 – WEEK SEVEN – FRIDAY – LET NO MAN SEPARATE

(Mark 10:1-12)

Prayer: O Jesus, you have come to restore creation as it was in the beginning.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus explaining his ideals to his disciples.)

Context:

Jesus believes that through the power of the Kingdom of God, all creation can be restored to God’s original plan. His critics cite Moses’ teaching about a decree of divorce, (an attempt to give some ordering to moral decay). Jesus believes his Kingdom can remove divorce itself.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Some Pharisees came to test Jesus. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife?” Jesus replied, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a bill of divorce and put her away.” Jesus answered, “He gave this command because of the hardness of your heart. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason, a man shall leave his mother and father and shall cleave to his wife. The two shall be one flesh. They are no longer two, but one flesh. What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”

Later, Jesus said to his disciples. “Whoever puts away his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. If the wife puts away her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder those that attract you.)

  1. The Pharisees’ question is not sincere, yet it opens up a very important topic.
  2. Jesus reveals his vision of God’s Kingdom on earth.
  3. Moses was shortsighted. He tried to resolve the problem by a legal maneuver of a written paper.
  4. Jesus sees the whole picture. Divorce is a distortion that results from man’s sinfulness.
  5. Jesus wants to restore the whole world to what was at the beginning – an ordered humanity.
  6. In the Kingdom, God and man are joined again. In this way, husband and wife can have an ordered relationship.
  7. Even with a civil divorce, the union remains and marrying another is adultery.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. O Lord, how confused human life has become. Only your grace can untangle my life.
  2. Your Kingdom is powerful. It touches my feelings and my decisions.
  3. Unite me to the Father. Let my life be “as it was in the beginning.”
  4. With you, Jesus, all things are possible.
  5. Help me to live my life without compromise.
  6. Help my marriage and bless my spouse.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will be faithful to the Lord in all pre-marital and marital relationships.
  2. I will ask the Holy Spirit to help me live purely.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.

MAY 19, 2016 – WEEK SEVEN – THURSDAY – RESPONSIBILITIES OF A DISCIPLE

(Mark 9:41-50)

Prayer: O Jesus, help me to live according to your highest ideals.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus explaining his ideals to his disciples.)

Context:

These teachings deal with moral life in the Christian community. First, disciples must give good example to the “little ones” (the newer members). Secondly, they must make radical sacrifices to avoid Gehenna. (Gehenna was a place south of Jerusalem where rubbish was always burning, a clear symbol for hell). When Jesus talks about cutting off a hand or foot, and plucking out an eye, he does not want us to harm ourselves but not to use that faculty for evil.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

If anyone scandalizes a little one who believes in me, it would be better for him if a millstone were tied about his neck and he was cast into the sea.

If your hand scandalizes you, cut it off. It is better to enter life maimed than to keep both hands and enter into Gehenna with its unquenchable fires.

If your foot scandalizes you, cut it off. It is better to enter everlasting life with one foot, than to have two feet and be cast into unquenchable fire.

If your eye is your downfall, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the Kingdom of God with one eye than to be cast into hell’s fire which never end.

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder those that attract you.)

  1. The disciple’s personal conduct should not scandalize other believers.
  2. Each disciple must be a model. This requires personal sacrifice.
  3. The hand often reaches for the money and the goods of others. This must stop.
  4. The eye looks lustfully and sees opportunities for personal satisfaction. This must stop.
  5. The foot takes the believer into temptations and occasions of sin. This must stop.
  6. All of these faculties must be curbed and limited. Jesus’ road is narrow and straight.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. I will be your disciple, Jesus, no matter what you demand of me.
  2. Make me a model to others, keeping them away from sin.
  3. Jesus, curb my greed. Limit my desires for money.
  4. Purify my eyes so I can one day see your glory.
  5. Make my feet take only your path, the straight and the narrow.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will face honestly what needs to be removed from my lifestyle.
  2. I will ask Jesus to guide me onto his road.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

If your hand or eye or foot scandalizes you, then cut them off.

MAY 18, 2016 – WEEK SEVEN – WEDNESDAY – AGAINST EXCLUSIVITY

(Matthew 5:38-48)

Prayer: O Jesus, overcome in me any desire to exclude others.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching John and the other Eleven)

Context:

Jesus has just spoken about service within the Christian community. He now teaches about relating to those outside the Community. Jesus rejects a close-mindedness that would result in exclusivity. He wants the community to be open to all.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

John said to Jesus, “Master we saw someone casting out a devil in your name. We tried to stop him because he was not one of us.”

Jesus said, “Do not stop him. For no one can do a miracle in my name, and at the same time speak ill of me. Anyone who is not against us is with us.”

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder those that attract you.)

  1. Jesus’ power is all over the world. If anyone uses Jesus’ name with the right intention, God will act.
  2. John is narrow-minded, believing that only members of the inner circle should have these powers.
  3. He should have rejoiced to see someone invoking Jesus’ power.
  4. Jesus rejects John’s criterion that “he is not one of us.” A personal love for Jesus suffices to join everyone to the community.
  5. This exorcist knew that Jesus’ name has power.
  6. Having used his lips to invoke Jesus’ name, he cannot speak against Jesus.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. O Lord, let me use your name to seek the blessings of heaven.
  2. Jesus, I love you. Include me among your disciples.
  3. Sanctify my lips so my words bless others.
  4. Jesus, place the whole world in my heart.       Help me to embrace all.
  5. Give me your powers and I will cast out demons in your name.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will use the name of Jesus to cast out the evil I encounter today.
  2. I will open my heart to everyone of good will.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Anyone who is not against us is with us.

MAY 17, 2016 – WEEK SEVEN – TUESDAY – THE EXTRA MILE

(Mark 9: 30-37)

Prayer: Jesus, teach me to be a little one, living in the simplicity of a child.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus, with his arms around a child, teaching his disciples.)

Context:

The disciples have just failed to drive out a demon. Now, they do not understand Jesus’ teaching about suffering. Worst of all, they argue about who is the most important. They neither think nor act as disciples.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus and his disciples began a journey through Galilee, but he did not want anyone to know about it. Jesus taught his disciples, “The Son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of men and they will kill him. After his death, he will rise on the third day. “ They, however, did not understand and were afraid to ask him.

When they entered the house, Jesus asked them, “What were you discussing on the way? They fell silent because they were disputing about who was the most important. Sitting down, Jesus taught the Twelve, “If anyone wants to be first he must be the last and the servant of all.”

Taking a child, he put him in their midst. Placing his arm around him, Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes such a child for my sake, shall welcome me, and not just me, but him who sent me.”

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder those that attract you.)

  1. Jesus is now “on his way” to Jerusalem. The disciples should be “on the way” to understanding. However, they are going backwards.
  2. For the first time, Jesus predicts three important facts. He will be betrayed, killed and rise from the dead.
  3. The disciples do not understand and are afraid to ask.
  4. Instead of learning these mysteries about Jesus, they concentrate on their own importance.
  5. When confronted, they have no answer.       They have violated Jesus’ basic teaching of serving others.
  6. Jesus reiterates this teaching. They should serve the new believers who need so much help. This is the task of the disciple.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. O Lord, I will walk with you. I will take your road and go your way.
  2. O Jesus, I know what is ahead – hardship and suffering. To follow you is worth any cost.
  3. Enlighten me, Jesus. Teach me your mysteries and your ways.
  4. Take my eyes off of myself. Take my heart away from my selfish interests.
  5. I will serve, Jesus. I will serve your people. Give me a task. What a privilege!

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will make sacrifices today to serve others.
  2. I will ask for light to understand the mysteries of the Kingdom.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

If anyone wishes to be first, he must be the servant of all.

MAY 16, 2016 – WEEK SEVEN – MONDAY – THE BOY WITH A DEMON

(Mark 9:14)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Set me free from the Evil One.

Imagination: (Picture the boy’s father pleading with Jesus.)

Context:

The disciples are going backward. Earlier, they had great success in driving out demons. Now, they are total failures. Jesus gets exasperated. The difficulty is their lack of faith. The boy’s father knows his faith is weak and says, “Help my unbelief.” That is enough for Jesus to act.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

When Jesus came down from the mountain, a man said, “Master, I have brought my son to you. He has a mute spirit who seizes him and throws him down. My son foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to cast him out but they could not.” Jesus said, “O unbelieving generation, how long must I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to me.”

When the mute spirit saw Jesus, he threw the boy on the ground. He rolled about, and was foaming at the mouth.

The father said, “If you can do anything, please have pity on us.” Jesus said, “If you can? Everything is possible to him who believes”. With tears, the father cried out, “I do believe Lord, help my unbelief.”

Seeing the crowd gathering, Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit saying, “Deaf and dumb spirit, I command you to leave him and never to enter him again.” Crying out, the spirit convulsed him and left. The boy became as one dead, but Jesus, taking him by the hand, lifted him up and he arose.

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder those that attract you.)

  1. The lengthy details show the reality and the power of the demonic world.
  2. Having tried everything without success, the father comes to Jesus.
  3. Jesus is upset that the apostles failed to drive out the demon.
  4. Jesus is also puzzled by the father not yet fully believing in his powers.
  5. Slowly, Jesus brings the father to full faith, “Help my unbelief.”
  6. Finally, Jesus drives out the demon who must surrender and leave. Although seemingly dead, the boy has been freed.
  7. This story symbolizes our own resurrection.       Jesus will take our hand we will rise.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. O Jesus, I have many problems, so I come to you.
  2. Jesus, how slow I am to believe.
  3. My restlessness, my fears, my fruitless labors and my passions control me. I am not free.
  4. Cast them out, O Jesus. Rebuke them and make them leave.
  5. Jesus, even if I have experienced problems for years, you can overcome them.
  6. Take my hand! Lift me up! Even if I am dead, you will still say, “Arise.”

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will trust in Jesus’ power over the demonic, especially in Confession and Communion.
  2. Today, I will have the faith of the boy’s father.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

I do believe, Help my unbelief. Everything is possible for him who believes.

MAY 15, 2016 – PENTECOST SUNDAY (C) – JOHN’S PENTECOST

(John 20:19-23)

Prayer: Jesus, breathe upon me and send your Holy Spirit.

Imagination: (Picture the Risen Jesus appearing to the fearful disciples.)

Context:

Jesus comes to the frightened disciples on Easter Sunday night. This is “John’s Pentecost”, because Jesus bestows the Holy Spirit. At Pentecost, Luke speaks of the disciples praying in tongues. John’s gospel goes deeper. Having received the Spirit, the apostles will be able to forgive sins.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Late that same day, the first day of the week, when the disciples were gathered together, the doors were locked for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be to you.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Therefore, he said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, I send you. Having said this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you shall forgive, are forgiven them. Whose sins you retain, are retained.”

Thoughts (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. Jesus will use these disciples as the church’s foundation.
  2. Filled with fear, they are not ready for the task.
  3. They lock the doors. How could they go out to all the world?
  4. How they need Jesus!
  5. Jesus’ body has new qualities. He now comes through locked doors.
  6. He is the same Jesus of Nazareth with wounds in his hands and side.
  7. Seeing Jesus has immediate effects. Joy replaces fear.
  8. Jesus’ words, “Peace be with you.” Reestablish a relationship broken by the apostles running away.
  9. He breathes on them (as God breathed life into Adam) and gives them God’s Holy Spirit.
  10. They share Jesus’ greatest power. They, too, can take away the sins of the world.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. O Jesus, please come. I am filled with so many fears.
  2. You are risen. You can come anywhere. Come, Lord Jesus.
  3. Jesus, say your special words in my heart, “Peace be with you.”
  4. Show me your wounds, and I will know it is you.
  5. Breathe on me, Jesus, and I will have eternal life.
  6. Send me. I will go to the whole world.
  7. Thank you for a Church which can forgive my sins, Jesus. They are so numerous.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will use the sacrament of Confession frequently.
  2. I will ask Jesus for his Holy Spirit.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”